Friday, December 30, 2022

For Those with an Empty Chair

By any measure, this Christmas season was one of the best for our household. Emily’s engagement to Q was a highlight. Em and Q, Hannah and Alex, Kim and I celebrated for several days together. Eating, laughing, talking, reading, watching movies. Loved every minute.

Each year, we talk about how we need to get each other less, yet the gifts under our tree, and the gifts, peace and love in our hearts, seem to grow. And that’s the way it should be, I guess. I feel that’s the right way to go. 

But I am aware that for many, this Christmas season was one of pain and frustration. Those stranded in airports who couldn’t get to see loved ones. Those in airports who were visiting can’t get home. Those who were traveling can’t get their luggage back or, for some, don’t even know where it is.

I think of the ongoing, thoughtless and illegal war in Ukraine. The constant shelling. The bombs and rockets blasting away at their power grid, leaving many in the dark and cold, without food or water.

I think of those in the south suffering from uncharacteristic and unkind weather, cold and snow. I think of those in upstate New York buried under feet of snow that will soon melt to floods.

I think of those who got sick and are in the hospital, unable to be with their loved ones or celebrate the season as they would have. Sometimes alone, in pain, worrying. 

And I think of those who had an empty chair where someone, gone, lost, passed away, would have normally sat enjoying the moments we take for granted. An empty chair. Someone taken- at any age- well before they should have been taken. Gone. Lost smiles. Lost laughs. Lost moments and thoughts and conversation. All lost. Only to be remembered by fading pictures and not-so-fading memories.

Moments seep to the surface and we try to ignore- for our own good and the good of those celebrating around us. And we move on as best we can. As best we can.

I think that’s what happens to those of us who experience loss. We get up, we breathe, we put one foot in front of the other and we move and don’t stop. We get up the next morning and repeat it. Over and over. We live with it. We deal with it. At times, we feel the loss coming on, and we fight back by keeping ourselves busy and we try not to think about it. At other times, we give in and we let that wave wash over us, hoping we don’t drown. 

For as many, many reasons as this season of Christmas was glorious and still makes me smile, there are reasons, a few, perhaps many, that for some folks, the candlelight was a bit dimmer than it should have been.

As we pack up our ornaments, put away the lights and decorations, and take out the tree, let us remember the ones with the empty chair. Let’s bow our heads and give them a thought, say a prayer that they, too, may have joy and peace. Something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Start out the New Year with a New Book! Inexpensive, and a good story lasts and will stick with the reader throughout life. Hint: I have nine available, and I hope you gift someone with one of my books.

My newest, Fan Mail, is Available for Preorder at  

Use code PREORDER2023 to receive a 15% Discount. If you head over to my author website at you will find the cover to Fan Mail, along with the book trailer, and the first two chapters to preview. You can also PREORDER the Kindle Version on Amazon at:

If you have read one of my books, I would like to ask a favor. If you could go online and write a review or, at the least, give a rating on the book, it would be of great help. Both a review and a rating would be wonderful. The review could be one or two lines. It doesn’t have to be long. Just let others know you read it and hopefully, enjoyed it. Obviously, 4s and 5s are the best. Thanks for this consideration.

Connect with me on Social Media: 
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Fan Mail: New Release!

A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.

As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.

Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?

Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!

Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann. The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die.

Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else.  
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.
Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved.  
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death?  

Photo Courtesy of Allec Gomes and Unsplash.


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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe